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Delta Blues Newsletter

December 13, 2012


Muddy Waters building lit up at night.

Note: From the Museum Director
The Delta Blues is one very local musical culture that has been heard around the world. To make sure that this great music and its rich history continue to sound out loud and clear, we've built the Muddy Waters Addition, a new, 7,300-square foot expansion of our gallery space that features our Muddy Waters collection and special exhibits. Among our many Muddy artifacts are the cabin he grew up in on Stovall Farms; the "Muddywood" guitar, made from wood from the cabin and donated to us by ZZ Top; a replica of the 1939 auto in which Alan Lomax drove up to the cabin to record Muddy for the Library of Congress in 1940; and many more items.


We've launched the Deeper Roots campaign to raise $1.2 million for
new and expanded exhibits for this Addition.


Here's a preview of the plans we've developed with Solid Light, Inc.

Deeper roots campaign collection of renderings.  

We have great plans, but we need your help to realize them. If you are a blues fan, if you have enjoyed the music and maybe a visit to the place where the blues was born, and if you care about the culture that created and still supports the blues, please contribute to our Deeper Roots campaign. Donations can be sent to:

Deeper Roots c/o Delta Blues Museum #1 Blues Alley Clarksdale, Mississippi 38614

Click here to find out more about Deeper Roots, and to find out how your contribution, no matter how small, can make a big difference.Thanks for your support!


As a special holiday gift for the Deeper Roots campaign, we've ordered just 24 Limited Edition Crossroads Hoodies as a Deeper Roots special item. These Hoodies make a perfect holiday gift-even better, two-thirds of the proceeds of the sale price of $100 go to the Deeper Roots campaign. You can order here.

1. For a $150 contribution, we'll send you the Hoodie with a package of Muddy Waters Blues Blend coffee and a DBM travel mug.

DBM crossroads hoodie.
DBM Muddy Waters coffee mug.
DBM travel mug.

2. For a $200 contribution, we'll send you the Hoodie and add a DBM blues brick to be inscribed by you and planted in our new Addition's walkway, and a photo book about the local blues scene, Blues, Booze, and BBQ.
Brick reading 'support the Delta Blues Museum' buy a blues brick.



It's always nice to hear that our efforts to preserve and present the Clarksdale blues heritage are appreciated. This month, the DBM family and friends are proud to announce that The Blues Foundation has chosen me as the recipient of the 2013 KBA ("Keeping the Blues Alive") Award for my work in the Historical Preservation and Documentation of the Blues. Thanks!


I have some good company, too: fellow Clarksdalian, Stan Street - artist, gallery owner, and musician-will be receiving the 2013 KBA Award for Art.

The Keeping the Blues Alive Awards are one part of the International Blues Challenge week of events put on by the Blues Foundation in January and February of next year. Some Clarksdale musicians will be competing in the 29th annual International Blues Challenge that begins January 29th. Artists will play and compete to advance during the week, until a winner is chosen from the finals held on Februrary 2nd. Congrats and best of luck to our Clarksdale-based bluesmen who made the first round and will be competing! They are: All Night Long Blues Band (group division), Richard "Daddy Rich" Crisman (solo division), and Evol Love (Duo division). We would like to wish Daddy Rich a little extra luck since he is one of our esteemed instructors in the Delta Blues Museum Arts and Education Program. Y'all go listen to some blues and give them your support, too.

Delta Best Award for Tourism trophie.

The Museum has received a "Delta "Best" Award for Tourism in recognition of outstanding contributions in tourism. It was presented by the Delta Strategic Compact 2012.

Have you joined us on Facebook? 7,031 of you have, but there's always room for more! Join up, and join the conversation about the Delta Blues and what's doin' in Clarksdale.

Speaking of fans . . . last month our Museum visitors came from 21 different countries, not to mention almost every one of the 50 states. It's always good to hear that the Delta Blues Museum delivers on its mission, to create a welcoming place where visitors find meaning, value, and perspective by exploring the history and heritage of the unique American musical art form of the Blues.


Some of the comments from last month's visitors:

"Lardy! Lardy! Love it!!!" from John and Judy, IL

"Loved the Blues and Clarksdale!" Lori and Tom, FL

"We feel the blues!" Kim and Jeff, CA "Thank you!" Lucille, Canada

"Long live Muddy Waters!" Michael, NC "Heaven!" Andy, England

"Outstanding!" Robin and Jay, Australia

"Long live the Delta Blues!" Bran and Amelia, MS


The latest media acknowledgement comes from The Independent, a British newspaper, which printed a long feature on Mississippi that includes the comment, "The Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale brilliantly reveals how much that would reach around the world emerged from a particular time and place." Thanks for the compliment!

From way up north, we heard from some blues fans/friends that their boat, named "McKinley Morganfield" after Muddy Waters' birth name, had survived Hurricane Sandy's

Libbie Rae Watson playing the guitar.
Photo: Randy Magee
winds and flooding. Talk about "high water everywhere"! We're glad to hear that the S.S. McKinley Morganfield rode out that super storm in high style-its mojo must have been really workin'.

And we heard from Libby Rae Watson, who was "representin'" the Museum in her DBM sweatshirt-as she says, "wrapped up In the warmth of the Delta Blues." Libby was performing at the Sam Chatmon festival in Hollandale, MS.

We hope you'll come visit us soon so we can "represent" our great musical history for you in person. We're open Monday-Saturdays except for Dec. 24 and 25, and Jan. 1, 2013.

Thanks for your continued and future support!

Shelley Ritter, Director

This newsletter is supported in part by funding from the Mississippi Arts Commission, a state agency, and,
in part, from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.


Exhibit display of John Hurt.
Mississippi John Hurt display. Photo: Lee Pharr

Mississippi John Hurt: "Hoping to Make a Success".

This wall display outlines the life of Mississippi John Hurt, whose rediscovery in the '60s helped start the blues revival boom. From Avalon, MS, south of the Delta, Hurt was often paired with Delta musicians in performances on the university and coffeehouse concert circuit. Many artists have covered his songs, including Taj Mahal, Bob Dylan, and Jerry Garcia. Special thanks to the National Endowment for the Arts and the Arts Center of Cannon County, Tennessee.

"True Delta"

This photography exhibit features photos by Michael Scanlan taken from the film of the same name. Prints of these photos are available for sale. A portion of the sales proceeds go to support the DBM Arts & Education program. Check with the DBM Gift Shop for details.

strong>"25 Years of the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival"

An exhibit of posters that spans the 25 years of the annual Clarksdale event. Lots of names, lots of color, lots of archival photos-a lot of blues history in two dozen posters.

Give My Poor Heart Ease

This exhibit features photos from the book of the same name by pioneering southern folklorist William Ferris who toured Mississippi in the 60s and 70s, documenting African Americans as they spoke about and performed the diverse musical traditions that form the authentic roots of the blues. Here are the stories of blues musicians who represent a wide range of musical traditions--from one-strand instruments, bottle-blowing, and banjo to spirituals, hymns, and prison work chants.


The Portraits of Son House by Dick Waterman

The music photographer who helped rediscover House in the '60s and who managed his concerts during that era's blues revival. For more on House, see our "Follow Son House" web feature on our home page: click here.

Collection of portraits of Son House by Dick Waterman.


Ben Harper has teamed with harmonica master Charlie Musselwhite for Get Up!, "a song-cycle of struggle and heart," slated for release by Stax Records/Concord Music Group on January 29th, 2013.

"Charlie and I have been looking to make this record for over ten years, " says Harper. "Ben and I really locked in, personally and musically, when we recorded with John Lee Hooker, " adds Musselwhite. "Ever since then we wanted to record together and being in the studio together is just a natural. You can hear it and feel it in the music on "Get Up!" A mix of blues, gospel, roots, and R&B, Get Up! features 10 musical character studies, written or co-written by Harper, with Musselwhite's point/counter-point harmonica accentuating Harper's vocals and guitar playing.

Talking about Mr. Musselwhite . . . we've got a Museum Artist Spotlight Feature on him on our Web site that includes the video trailer for "Get Up!". To view, click here .


Breaking News!

Lambfish Art Company and Foxtrot Pottery are hosting a Christmas Open House on Thursday, Dec 13th, from 6-9 pm in downtown Clarksdale. Stop by for holiday shopping, refreshments, and some Delta-style socializing.

Sunflower Concert at Ground Zero Blues Club, November 21

Photo: Panny Flautt Mayfield

Last month was rockin' in Clarksdale, with the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival's Annual Thanksgiving eve party that packed Ground Zero Blues Club, just across the street from the Museum. The event featured a preview of local artists booked for its 2013 Festival lineup, including (from left to right) Heather Crosse, Jacqueline Nassar (a graduate of the DBM Arts and Education program), Josh "Razor Blade" Stewart, and Richard "Daddy Rich" Crisman.

The skill and commitment of these local artists reminds us that the Delta Blues story is an ongoing one, with contemporary musicians and their fans continuing to enjoy one of the great music cultures of the world right here in Clarksdale.


Anna Tralor giving a 'Stella!' shout.
Anna Traylor of Northwest Rankin High recreates her award-winning "Stella!" shout at GZBC

Dr. Anne Brooks Reception, October 30th

Residents from around the Delta came to the Museum to thank to Dr. Anne Brooks, an osteopath and nun who was awarded Physician of the Year by the American Osteopathic Foundation. Brooks, who is 74, has been working at the nearby Tutwiler Clinic for 29 years. Her clinic also serves Clarksdale, with 10 percent of its patients coming from this community. Brooks isn't from Mississippi, but she's learned something about the Delta. "The people here are very loving people," she said. "They're very caring people and they want, as much as anyone, to have a better life. And having a better life begins by having better health."

Tennesee Williams Festival Student Drama Competition, October 12-13

The number one attraction at Clarksdale's 20th Mississippi Delta Tennessee Williams Festival, held October 12-13, was the Student Drama Competition.

Performing monologues and scenes from Tennessee Williams plays, the fledgling actors earned praise and advice from theater professionals, and cash awards for their school drama departments. The prizes, donated by Coahoma Community College, promote the works of Tennessee Williams, who lived in Clarksdale as a child and wrote nine plays about the Delta. The competition took place in CCC's newly renovated Georgia Lewis Theatre and opened with a breakfast hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and the Coahoma County Tourism Commission. Kappi Allen, tourism director, was in charge of the competition; the judges were out-of-town theater professionals . The winning students recreated their performances at Ground Zero Blues Club later in the day.


The DBM Arts and Education Program's teachers and students transformed themselves into the DBM Band yet again to be a part of two Christmas parades. They kicked off the holiday festivities with a float in the Jonestown Christmas Parade on December 3rd and then in the Clarksdale Christmas Parade on December 6th to cap off a very jolly week. With the aid of a generator kindly loaned to the museum by teacher Bill Perry, a truck loaned by friends David and Leah Carr, and a trailer loaned by friend Lenora Commer, the kids were able to play blues and Christmas songs as they rode along through the crowd-lined streets of both downtowns. The kids and teachers had a great time, and the dancing of the crowd and even Santa Claus (on the float in front of them), let us know that everyone else was enjoying their music too! Many thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Carr, Mr. Perry, and Ms. Commer for making the DBM's parade participation possible.

Our parade season continues, as we are already looking forward to participating in Clarksdale's Martin Luther King Parade on January 5, 2013. Stay tuned to our Facebook and Twitter pages for more details!

The DBM Band's first CD, From Kansas City to Clarksdale, Vol. 1, is available from the DBM online Store--just $10!

DBM volume 1 CD front cover art.
DBM volume 1 CD back of cover.



We are offering just 24 of these Limited Edition Crossroads Hoodies as a special item for our Deeper Roots campaign. Deeper Roots is our fundraising initiative for new and expanded Museum exhibits in our new Muddy Waters Addition. For a $100 donation, we'll send you this special Hoodie. Two-thirds of the proceeds-$65-go to the Deeper Roots fund. These Hoodies make a perfect holiday gift-make someone special happy while you contribute to our new Muddy Waters exhibits. Order here

Our Crossroads tees are back in stock. All sizes, in black, with a colorful Crossroads graphic on the back, a small DBM logo on front. Just $20.

We also have the Crossroads poster, with the same image. Just $15.

Still looking for that perfect gift for your blues buddy? How about Blues, Booze, and BBQ, an oversize photo book that shows 150 miles of Highway 61 from Memphis to Leland, with a special focus on Clarksdale? With colorful photos of juke joints, festival, and private events that show the Delta blues culture at work and play, it's like a party between pages! Put on some Delta Blues as a soundtrack, break out the eats and drinks, and enjoy the sights of the Delta.
Mississippi: State of Blues is another book that makes a perfect gift. With 100 large color photos of blues sites and events in and around Clarksdale, and an essay by blues historian Scott Barretta, it shows that the blues are alive and well in the Delta.

All items available through our online Store.

Be sure to visit the Delta Blues Museum Gift Shop for additional items and memorabilia.

Delta Blues Museum Board of Directors
William H. Gresham, President
Yvonne Stanford, Secretary
Johnny Lewis
Dr. Frank Marascalco
Jim Herring

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